Thursday 18th January 2018,
The Transcript

‘Senseless destruction’ at high cost to students

Vandalism in Smith East and West has been rampant this semester. Students incure community damage fines when responsibilty for these incidents is not claimed.

By Breanne Reilly
News Editor

Public Safety is investigating damages inflicted upon the Smith East and West residence halls. In the past month, the buildings have procured several hundred dollars in damages and Smith residents are paying out of pocket for the vandalism.

Most of the damages have occurred at Smith East.

According to Levi Harrel, residential life coordinator of Smith and Austin Halls, damages in the past month include a shattered door on Smith East first floor and a flood light was torn down on the fifth floor.

Fire extinguishers have been sprayed on two different occasions, one of which caused a building-wide evacuation.

Vomit has also been found along with a smashed bottle of alcohol in the #3 Smith East stairwell.

In Smith West, a Rec Room door window was shattered on the second floor. Twelve bulletin boards have been ripped down in both buildings.
According to Harrel, the cumulative cost for the September damages is not currently known, but he said the damages have been expensive to repair.

For example, according to Ramon Walls, public safety officer, the repairs needed to fix the shattered door on the Smith East floor cost $216.

Harrel said when damages like these occur, those responsible for the damages have to pay for repairs.

However, the investigation is ongoing and no one has stepped forward to claim responsibility.

So the university has had to pay for cleanup and repairs and then recollect the money through community damages.

According to Harrell, “when no one takes responsibility that cost is passed on to the entire Smith community.”

Sophomore Jack Sussman, a resident in Smith East, said it is unfair that each student is billed for the damages, but he understands the repairs have to be paid for.

Sussman also said he was charged for community damages last year when he lived in Thomson Hall.

“When no one fesses up to it, there is no other logical way to pay,” Sussman said.

According to Andrew Peterson, assistant director of Residential Life, students last year paid up to $35 in community damages, depending on where they lived.

The university does not charge students for community damages that cost less than one dollar per student.

Still, most students are charged $5-10 in community damages each year.

Peterson also said the per-student cost appears to be “reasonably small.”

However, there are approximately 1,500 students on campus.

“When the cost per student is multiplied 1,500 times you can see that a very small number of students are causing everyone to pay a collectively giant sum of money for senseless destruction,” Peterson said.

Freshman William Boaz, a resident of Smith West, said he agrees the destruction does not make any sense.

“I think it’s ridiculous and immature, I really don’t see why people do that,” Boaz said.

According to Richard Leavy, professor of psychology, like most behaviors, vandalism has many sources.

“Those who vandalize may be more impulsive, enjoy risk-taking and exercise less self-control than most people,” Leavy said.
Leavy said environmental factors can play an important role.

For example, adolescents who vandalize property are more likely to come from families where the parents do not closely watch their children’s actions.

They are also more likely to be antisocial.

He said vandalism can be classified as a “peer norm.”

If a group participates in destructive, defiant, and deviant behavior, adolescents who join will adopt that behavior.

“Vandalism is likely when, as with most kinds of undesirable behavior, there are infrequent or minimal negative consequences for the behavior,” Leavy said.

Part of the problem is that those responsible for the vandalism cannot be identified because they have not been caught in the acts.
“Vandalism is most likely to occur in the late night or early morning when few people are awake to see or hear what has occurred,” Peterson said.

He said students who witness the vandalism or who know the party/parties responsible for the damages should contact their RA, RLC or Public Safety immediately.

They can also email and be directed to the proper person.

Boaz said the Smith community has a responsibility to prevent the vandalism and to find the people who caused the damages.

“People should take it upon themselves to contribute to a good atmosphere,” Boaz said.

Sussman said those responsible should remember that their actions are costly for everyone.

“They should think twice about what they do,” Sussman said. “If they have violent tendencies, they should talk to someone about it.”

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